AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bubba Watson will be the first to tell you he has issues, plenty of them, and he'll readily admit he's on the jittery side and self-diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
But as the sun began to fade Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club, and the blood pressure started to rise on the back nine of the Masters, it was a stable Watson holding his nerve and holing difficult putts while handling the heat. It helps to wield the biggest driver in golf, too, a hot-pink number that creates missiles that touch down 350 yards away. The combination of mental golf acumen, steely nerves and brute strength led Watson to his second green jacket in three years.
With plenty of firepower, yet possessing a gentle touch around the greens – he had 11 one-putts in the final round – Watson closed with a 3-under-par 69 to finish at 8-under 280. He toppled by three shots playing partner Jordan Spieth, who was trying to become the youngest Masters winner in history at 20, and Jonas Blixt, who was trying to win Sweden's first major in men's golf.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, trying at age 50 to become the oldest major champion of all time, finished with a 71 and in fourth place. Matt Kuchar, attempting to win his first major, grabbed a share of the lead early in the round but fell back with a 74 and into a tie for fifth place with Rickie Fowler (73).
When Watson won his first green jacket in 2012, with the boomerang out of the trees in the playoff, his wife, Angie, and newly adopted son, Caleb, were back home in Florida. This year they were at the back of the 18th green, with Caleb, now 2, slowly waddling on to the pristine green to greet his father after he holed out his last putt.
"The first one for me, it's almost like I lucked into it," Watson said of his 2012 playoff victory over Louis Oosthuizen. "This one was a lot of hard work, dedication, and I got back here. After giving away that jacket last year, I kind of wanted it back.
" … It's a dream to have my family here and to win. Just to have my family here is a blessing. And then to put on another green jacket while they're here, it's pretty crazy."
The big kid from the Florida panhandle town of Bagdad has six victories on the PGA Tour, including two this year as he won the Northern Trust Open in February. Last year, he dreaded the extra commitments that come with being the defending Masters champion and he tied for 50th.
He looked at 2014 as the year to rejoice, to remind himself how blessed he is to be a father and a husband and to play golf for a living. He would concentrate on being a better husband, father and Christian. And golfer.
"The team around me, we have always thought that I've had the talent. And I've always done it my way," said Watson, who also nearly added wins in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship this year. "We always felt like I could play golf at a high level. But then to actually do it is the hard part.
"After getting the green jacket the first time, it's overwhelming. At the same time, adopting my son the week before (last year's Masters) threw a wrench in there as well."
He said it took some time to balance being a new dad and having a green jacket. "My wife and I figured out our schedules so I can still practice at a high level. It took me a year or so to get adjusted that I'm not really that good, that I've got to keep practicing. Finally I got adjusted to it, and here we are with another green jacket."
Fowler has seen a change. He greeted his good friend with a giant hug just outside of the scoring cabin following the round. Earlier Fowler joked that Watson has grown up the past two years – from being 12½ to now being 14 – and that he will always be the video game-playing, fun-loving big kid. Heck, Watson held a Masters Trivia contest for his 1.1 million followers on Twitter on Sunday morning.
When the laughter died down, Fowler got serious. "He's always going to be a kid at heart," Fowler said. "But mentally and with his golf game and as a dad and person, he's definitely grown up.
" … He beats himself up a lot, takes it out on others a few times. But he took a long look at himself, and he sees Caleb and Angie, and he knows he can be better.
"He knows he can be great here," Fowler added. This place suits him perfectly with his creativity and his length. He's able to hit golf shots around here that some guys can't. It's fitting for him to win here."
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Everything seemed fitting for Spieth. Playing with the savvy of an old hand and the patience of an old sage through three rounds, the 2013 PGA Tour rookie of the year made four birdies in his first seven holes and took a two-shot lead to the eighth tee. But then he committed a few cardinal sins at Augusta – coming up short of the false front on the ninth green (bogey) and coming up short in Rae's Creek on the 12th (bogey) – and lost his touch. He didn't make a birdie in his last 11 holes.
"I got off to the start I wanted to and then they just didn't fall," Spieth said. "Couple bounces here, couple bounces there ... and it's a different story. But to know I was that close and really performed mentally better than I could have anticipated, that's very reassuring going forward.
" … But ultimately, Bubba played some incredible golf. Hat's off to him."
Caddie Ted Scott certainly tipped his cap to his boss. Their relationship on the course has struggled at times. Before this year, Scott said Watson spent time with Judah Smith, a pastor in Seattle and Watson's best friend. Smith urged Watson to change, to appreciate, to rejoice.
"Last year was a rough year with the pressure of trying to prove yourself, but this year his attitude's been great," Scott said. "It's been a lot of fun to work for him this year. I really enjoyed the good and bad."